Joseph And Friends Fill The Frost

The dreamcoat is all it's glory, and the kids in their own.
The dreamcoat is all it's glory, and the kids in their own.

It was, perhaps, a perfect show for everyone. A Bible story, gently twisted by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, bright costumes and even brighter lights, and a crowd of Culver City kids singing and dancing their hearts out. How could you stay away?

When I arrived the line was around the block. Walking past dozens of friends all lined up to see the Culver City Middle School production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” I wondered what it would take to sell out the Robert Frost Auditorium. They were only shy by a few seats, but every section was filled with families, friends and fans who came to enjoy a great show. That’s almost 1200 people, so it was no wonder it seemed as if all of Culver City was there.

The stage was almost as crowded as the audience, with 55 kids in the production, all of whom shone like stars.  From the first musical number, “Jacob and Sons”to the mega-mix encore at the end, it was just pure fun. The audience rocked and screamed to Robert Washington’s absolutely priceless impersonation of “Elvis” as Pharaoh as he gyrated and walked into the audience and eve sat on one lap.

The last ensemble piece ended in the unveiling of a huge parachute type coat extension of the colors of the rainbow of Cameron DeFaria’s coat who played Joseph.  No eye was dry during “Close Every Door, ” with Joseph in prison at the end of act one. The notable hilarious French beret performance by Oliver Berliner and his sidekick “brother” Thanassis Tetradis that took off in act two heard laughter all around the auditorium.

I almost had to gasp when I recognized Reno Behnken, seemingly four inches taller than he was in last year’s production of “Darn Yankees, ” and I still have a soft spot for Claire Skelley, who can sell a song from the middle of a chorus line. Seeing Alex Stewart in his biblical blues brothers black hat and glasses was a thrill, just like finding Katy Engel dripping with gold trim as one of the Pharaoh’s Girls. Seeing these kids reminded me why theater is important to all of us.

Not just for the fun, to sing and clown and get a big cheer. Not simply for learning to work together (a cast of 55? I can only imagine a lunch break with this crowd -) but to give these students the pleasure of doing something so far beyond what they’ve done before. That’s an incomparable education.

My biggest round of applause goes to all those parent producers; Bonnie Wacker, Diane Kunce, Elaine Behnken, Tania Fleischer and Jane Steinberg, and all the parents who worked so hard on the costumes, the sets and every other detail. Go, go, go Joseph. You all deserve the applause. None of this could have happened without the amazing (technicolor? ) Director Diane Feldman and the terrific choreography of Courtney Bradshaw. Fifty-five cast members, three acts, and an unquantifiable amount of fun.

Ting Internet is in Culver City!

10 Comments

  1. A fabulous production — all of Culver City (and not just our Middle School) should be proud. 🙂

  2. It was so wonderful to see such a huge audience for this show. Thanks for the write-up.

  3. I wish I could control the font to say in huge, scrolly writing ~ ‘”THANK YOU” for this glorious and GLOWING review!!! I was SO proud of those kids & SO thrilled with the performance (and not just because I’m a proud mama, but I’ll admit that I am). It was a labor love, and well worth every bit of effort. So glad to be reading this fabulous take on the show!

  4. I was completely blown away by this production! The stage and the costumes were of the highest quality. The singing was gorgeous. And every single cast member exuded a character and nuanced acting that I have rarely, if ever, seen in a middle school production. Soon after the play began I recognized Cameron Defaria who played Joseph. I was so excited to see him up on that stage performing as if in a Broadway musical! He came to one of the first music classes I ever taught over ten years ago. I was bursting with pride watching him sing and act with such confidence and aplomb. The song “Close Every Door” was for me the most poignant moment of the show. My entire family was mesmerized during that song. I was deeply inspired. I have been involved with musical theatre my whole life and I have very high standards. This production of Joseph surpassed all my expectations. Sitting in the Frost Auditorium, watching 55 talented, passionate singers and actors perform at such a high level of excellence lifted my heart. I felt such a deep gratitude for the parents, teachers and many community members who supported this cast and this play. We miss Courtney Bradshaw at Farragut, but I am so thrilled that Courtney and Diane Feldman are working their magic with the middle schoolers.
    In the words of the cast: “Any Dream Will Do”. Thank you so much cast, crew, parents and supporters of this show for making a dream come true for me. I am looking forward to many years of wonderful musical theatre at CCMS!

  5. This production blew the roof off of the Robert Frost Auditorium! A cast of 57 (?) dancing together, singing in harmony, focused and having fun…. kudos to the cast, crew, director, and everyone who made it possible. The kids will never forget it! Congratulations to ALL!

  6. An extraordinary show! And more so because I knew several new cast members who — last Fall — were tentative, so say the least, about getting up on stage, not to mention singing and dancing (and one of them had a terrific solo)! So much energy, confidence, and of course, talent. This is a great program!

  7. Hey Judith, thank you for coming to the show, and for mentioning me in your article. I had a great time!

  8. Thanks for your great article, Judith! The show was terrific; the kids were truly awesome (and they worked so incredibly hard for many weeks). These kids were also very lucky and priviledged to work with Diane Feldman, Courtney Bradshaw, the professional and volunteer crew, and the Parent Producers. Our community is enriched by their talent and dedication to our kids; I have the highest regard and respect for all of them. Here’s looking forward to the next show! Thanks again for your support.

  9. AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME! My family and I enjoyed the show so much! What a wonderful, talented group of kids. At times, it was hard to remember they were kids. Way to go CCMS!

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